How Many Fans Does It Take To Quit Your Job?

1282460_sThis site isn’t about simply being your own record label. That’s just a strategy.

My vision is to enable as many musicians as possible to become independent. I want every musician with talent and a willingness to work to be making a living from it.

The more musicians who are in a position to devote all of their time to music, the better the music industry will be. What kind of world would it be if our best musicians and artists were told to stop creating and stack supermarket shelves instead?

Every hour that a talented musician is not making music is a collective loss to us all. I want you to get to the point where you are able to walk away from your day job.

In this blog post I will show you the formula for doing exactly that.

By the end of this post, you will know the actual number of fans that you will need to quit your day job. I promise that you’ll be stunned by how achievable it is.

Revisiting Kevin Kelly

There is a legendary article from the thinker Kevin Kelly. He argues that it only takes 1,000 true fans to enable an artist to make a living. You can read the original here.

He defines a true fan as someone who will spend $100 a year on you.

You don’t need to be Elvis or a huge corporation to make a good living. You just need a thousand true fans and you get an income of $100,000.

Kevin’s aim is to show how this is within your reach. You don’t need a million fans. You just need a thousand.

However, when I think of 1,000 fans each giving as much as $100, it always feels a tough ask. After all, for Kevin Kelly, the fans giving you less don’t count. The guy who gives you $25 a year? He’s not a “true fan”. He’s not included in that 1,000.

Thankfully, I’ve figured out that Kevin Kelly is aiming too high. You don’t need that many true fans at all. I’ll show you how.

Say Hello To Pareto’s Principle

Pareto’s Principle is an economic finding by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. You may have read about it before. It’s become pretty well known.

In this context it says that 80% of your money will come from 20% of your fans. (Don’t get too hung up on those figures by the way. It’s more important to understand that a small number of your fans will give you most of your money, although the 80/20 is a good rule of thumb.)

Pareto turns Kelly’s idea hugely in your favour. It switches from needing a thousand fans to much fewer.

Here’s The Maths

To get $100,000 with a typical crowd that is true to Pareto’s principle, here’s how it actually stacks up.

800 of your fans will collectively give you $20,000. That’s just over $2 a month each.

200 of your fans will collectively give you $80,000. That’s $400 a year each.

So in this model, the guy who spends $25 – the “typical fan” – now counts as one of your thousand fans.

We are no longer counting just the folks who will pay you $100 a year. We now include those who give us just a couple of dollars a month.

In this model, we need only 200 true fans (as Kelly describes them).

Your Quit My Job Figure

It’s easy to work out your own Quit My Job figure. Just go and look at your paycheck.

If music securely brought in the same amount of money that your job does, you could replace your job. Your new job would be music, and you’d be living the dream.

Kelly’s number isn’t your Quit My Job figure unless you’re currently earning $100,000 a year. For the majority, the annual income is lower than that. So it is reachable even more quickly.

Here’s how to work it out yourself.

1. Find out your annual income.

2. Divide that number by 125 – that’s how many paying fans you need.

3. Divide that by 4 – that’s how many super fans you need.

Your paying fans just need to give you a couple of bucks a month.

Your super fans need to give you $400 a year. But look how many super fans there are. I bet it’s not anywhere near Kelly’s one thousand.

Ok, so you don’t believe me?

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you’re on $50,000 per year. I chose this because it is the median annual income for a male in the USA.

Step 1. Annual income = 50,000

Step 2. Paying Fans needed is 400.

Step 3. Super Fans needed is 100.

To earn $50,000 a year from music you need just 100 super fans.

The 400 ordinary paying fans from Step 2 give you $2 a month ($10,000)

The 100 super fans from Step 3 give you $400 annually ($40,000).

The total? $50,000. Now give up your day job and be a musician.

Wrapping it up

Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans is legendary, but it is also flawed.

It overstates the case for what we need to live the dream of a full time musician.

This dream life is within your reach.

With just 100 super fans, you can do it.

So work out your number and share it in the comments below. You’re closer to quitting your job than you think.